Hockey Talk: No NHL, Who Cares!?!
As is the case with professional athletics unions, the fatcat players like Brett Hull screw over the average player by being so intractable, seeing dollar signs even while the Sword of Damocles hangs over the NHL as an organization. The 2004-2005 season was cancelled, then uncancelled, then recancelled over this past weekend. WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot?
Both the players' union and the league looked stupid because of this, and now the future of major league hockey could be put into doubt. For one, there is no impetus to negotiate for months, as there would be no reason to get together until at least July or August, as preseason and training camps begin in September....Secondly, the players think that hockey fans will mill back like most baseball fans after MLB's various disputes....wrong again, bucko! In fact, most surveys have fans solidly blaming the players' intractability and vowing not to come back....I might be one of them, sadly....because, after all, there is AHL hockey....Yep, that segue means it is time for a:
MIGHTY DUCKS UPDATE
Only attended one game out of two home games due to a political commitment on Saturday. However, here is the official rundown, and my comments after both official rundowns from the Ducks Official Site
Phantoms blank Ducks 3-0 behind Niittymaki
CINCINNATI, Ohio - Ben Eager and a goal and an assist and Antero Niittymaki stopped 36 shots, as the Philadelphia Phantoms beat the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, 3-0, Friday at Cincinnati Gardens.
Jon Sim and Dennis Siedenberg also scored for the Phantoms, who have won two straight games and three of their last four. Ohio State product R.J. Umberger chipped in with a pair of assists.
Niittymaki turned aside 12 shots in the first period, 11 shots in the second period and 13 more in the third en route to his third shutout of the season.
Ilya Bryzgalov finished with 23 saves for the Ducks, who suffered their first regulation loss in their last 13 home games (11-1-0-1).
The Ducks and face Grand Rapids Saturday at 7:35 p.m. at Cincinnati Gardens.
First period: No scoring.
Second period: 1. Phi, Sim 16 (Umberger, Eager), 1:36. 2. Phi, Eager 3 (Pitkanen, Umberger), 16:02.
Third period: 3. Phi, Seidenberg 7 (Slaney, Stafford), 0:59 (ppg).
Shots on goal: Philadelphia 5-12-9=26; Cincinnati 12-11-13=36.
Power-play opportunities: Philadelphia 1-for-2; Cincinnati 0-for-6. Goaltenders: Philadelphia, Niittymaki (36 shots, 36 saves; record 19-14-4); Cincinnati, Bryzgalov (26 shots, 23 saves; record 13-10-1). A: 4,701. Referee: Morton. Linesmen: Dunne, Lord. Records: Philadelphia 29-16-2-4; Cincinnati 26-24-1-3.
Ducks blank Griffins behind Cassivi
CINCINNATI, Ohio - Shane O'Brien had a goal and an assist and Frederic Cassivi made 39 saves as the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks beat the Grand Rapids Griffins, 3-0, Saturday at Cincinnati Gardens.
Tomas Malec and Casey Hankinson also scored for the Ducks, who improved to 12-1-0-1 in their last 14 games at home.
Hankinson, playing in his 400th career AHL game, netted his third goal of the season 12:08 into the third period to end an 18-game goal drought.
Cassivi stopped 18 shots in the first period, 17 shots in the second period and four more in the third en route to his fourth shutout of the season. The 10-year pro improved to 9-3-1
with a 1.39 goals-against average and .953 save percentage in 13 home appearances.
Joey MacDonald finished with 26 saves for the Griffins, who have lost their last three games against Cincinnati.
The Ducks play the Milwaukee Admirals Sunday at 6:30 p.m. at the Bradley Center.
First period: 1. Cin, O'Brien 4 (Kunitz, Malec), 6:06 (ppg).
Second period: 2. Cin, Malec 4 (O'Brien), 9:43.
Third period: 3. Cin, Hankinson 3 (Kunitz, Cassivi), 12:08.
Shots on goal: Grand Rapids 18-17-4=39; Cincinnati 10-6-13=29.
Power-play opportunities: Grand Rapids 0-for-9; Cincinnati 1-for-9. Goaltenders: Grand Rapids, MacDonald (29 shots, 26 saves; record 19-21-1); Cincinnati, Cassivi (39 shots, 39 saves; record 12-14-1). A: 5,832. Referee. St. Pierre. Linsemen: Dunn, Mallin.
Mark's Hockey Remarks
Firstly, about Friday's loss to Philly. The offense creeped back into its woeful self on the powerplay of passing WAY too much and not scoring enough. The guys seemed to be more concerned about making pretty across the ice passes than in scoring.
The defense was woefully lacking in Friday's game. 2 of the 3 goals were on opportunities where the Defensemen failed to do their jobs and allowed odd man rushes on Ilja Bryzgalov, the goalie. Ilja defended one shot, but the rebound and pass to the guy unchecked on the other side of the net did him in.
However, Ilja did not play overly well, which has characterized the all-time best Duck goalie this season. I don't know whether it is family issues of being a new dad, or whether Anaheim is trying to change his style to more of a butterfly; but something is amiss in Duckland when it comes to the brilliant Duck goaltender. For the sake of this team in the long haul, I hope he gets it together. Because, though I like Freddie Cassivi and believe he has done excellent work, he is 30+ and his streaks do not last long, as was shown the previous weekend when he got spanked by Syracuse before the all-star break.
I think Ilja's problems also have to do with his portrayal. He has been portrayed as some fans as aloof and uncaring, when quite the opposite is true. He is very appreciative of fans, loves the kid fans, and is often OVERLY self-critical. However, because he doesn't speak much he is consigned to aloofness. Also, the Ducks PR department has not helped in confidence by releasing stories where people say " the team plays better under freddie" and "sometimes teams play better for a different goalie"....Goalies are a funny breed....They are highly susceptible to suggestions of doubt....If one is seeking to improve Ilja, this negative motivation is not the way to do it.
However, Cassivi was brilliant Saturday, according to my sister who attended the games. Freddie is a good stopgap, but if this team plans to get far, they need Ilja back to his dominant self.
The Ducks also played a roadgame...The official scoop is provided here without commentary, as I was not at the game:
Ducks skate past first-place Admirals, 4-0
MILWAUKEE, WI - Chris Kunitz scored two goals and Frederic Cassivi stopped 37 shots as the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks beat the first-place Milwaukee Admirals, 4-0, Sunday at the Bradley Center.
Pierre Parenteau added a goal and an assist for the Ducks, who moved four games above .500 for the first time this season (28-24-1-3).
Alexei Smirnov opened the scoring 18 seconds into the first period for Cincinnati. The goal snapped a 21-game goal drought for Anaheim's first-round pick in 2000.
Cassivi stopped six shots in the first period, 12 shots in the second period and 19 more in the third en route to his second straight shutout and career-high fifth of the season.
Brian Finley surrendered three goals on 12 shots before being pulled in favor of Seamus Kotyk in the second period for Milwaukee, which was blanked for the second straight game.
The Ducks, who have won two of their last there games, begin a six-game homestand Wednesday against Philadelphia at 7:35 p.m. at Cincinnati Gardens.
First period: 1. Cin, Smirnov 7 (Stepp), 0:18. 2. Cin, Parenteau 10 (Penner, O'Brien), 12:55 (ppg). 3. Cin, Kunitz 11 (Parenteau, Foster), 19:35 (ppg).
Second period: 4. Cin, Kunitz 12 (Malec), 15:41 (ppg).
Third period: No scoring.
Shots on goal: Cincinnati 12-14-7=33; Milwaukee 6-12-19=37.
Power-play opportunities: Cincinnati 3-for-8; Milwaukee 0-for-6. Goaltenders: Cincinnati, Cassivi (37 shots, 37 saves; record 13-14-1); Milwaukee, Finley (20:00, 12 shots, 9 saves; record 26-14-4), Kotyk (40:00; 21 shots, 20 saves). A: 3,505. Referee: Pochmara. Linesmen: Cichy, Jacobs.